Jan 26, 2023 - News

Niners' Super Bowl quest

49ers' tight end George Kittle

Tight end George Kittle during the Niners' 19-12 win last week against the Cowboys. Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are one win away from their second Super Bowl appearance in four years. But to get there, they'll have to take down one of the NFL's most impressive teams.

What's happening: The Niners head to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday to face the Eagles in the NFC championship game.

  • It's the first time the teams have met this season.

Why it matters: While the 49ers have fielded good teams in recent years, they haven't won a Super Bowl since Steve Young and Jerry Rice beat the San Diego Chargers in 1995.

  • That was 28 years ago!

What they're saying: "We just have to minimize the mistakes and everybody has to be on their assignment for us to be where we want to be," Niners wide receiver Deebo Samuel said at a press conference yesterday.

Catch up quick: After a 9-8 record last year, the Eagles improved to a league-best 14-3 this season thanks, in large part, to the play of quarterback Jalen Hurts — a finalist for the NFL's most valuable player.

  • The Niners' season has been a quarterback story as well, with starter Trey Lance suffering a season-ending injury in Week 2 and backup Jimmy Garoppolo going down in December. The team's hopes now rest with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy — the final pick in last year's NFL draft.

Of note: Niners coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed at a press conference yesterday that the team will allow defensive lineman Charles Omenihu to play Sunday despite his arrest this week on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic violence.

  • "We're letting the legal process take care of itself so if he's healthy, he'll play this week," Shanahan said.

What else we're watching: While the Eagles' high-octane offense has received much attention, their defense isn't too shabby either, with a league-leading 70 sacks this season. If Philly can put pressure on Purdy, it could quickly rattle the 23-year-old quarterback.

  • For San Francisco to win, it could take another monster play like tight end George Kittle's insane grab last week against the Cowboys. Perhaps it'll be running back Christian McCaffrey or the Niners' top-ranked defense who delivers the momentum swinger.
  • Axios Philadelphia reporter Isaac Avilucea also tells us to watch out for Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, who's known for his spirited sideline reactions.

💭 Our thought bubble: Megan and I wanted to keep our playoff winning streak alive, so we proposed a bet with our Axios Philly colleagues.

  • We've decided at our upcoming retreat in D.C., the losing city will have to buy the winning city Wawa "hoagies" one day for lunch.
  • We hear it's a thing.

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